The 2021 Tydel EZIUP&GO Motorsport Australia Victorian Hill Climb Championship got underway on the weekend with the Rob Roy hill climb reaching record numbers during its first outing for the year.
Taking part in the championship’s season opener was an impressive field of 98 entrants, with each driver completing four attempts at the famous 700 metre course.
While the majority of competitors were Victorians, it was a familiar interstater who took home the spoils in what ended up an epic battle between two titans of the championship.
As he has done so many times in his career, South Australian David Mahon made the journey across the border to win the event, despite facing a serious scare from veteran Mike Barker.
The two open-wheel drivers were locked in a tight battle for much of the day, with each posting the fastest time on two occasions and both going sub 20 seconds in their best run.
Mahon may have started off stronger between the two, but it was Barker who looked the better driver as he took the lead on the second run, before bettering his time in the third to record a 19.74 second run.
With just one attempt remaining, Mahon saved the best until last and put in a blistering run of 19.49 seconds, snatching victory from Barker who couldn’t beat his own time.
As the two front runners battled it out for the outright lead, behind them lay an intriguing battle for the final spot on the podium between three drivers – all of whom joined the hill climb’s illustrious ‘Under 22 second’ club.
Behind the wheel of a Time Attack listed Mitsubishi Evo 7, Mirko Grbic was the clear best of the rest by producing an inspiring collection of runs as his third best run time of 20.91 seconds saw him claim a deserving third place.
Less than one second behind Grbic were the other two standout entries in Daniel Leitner and Brenton Byfield, as barely anything separated the two Subaru WRX drivers, Leitner eventually clinching fourth place by just three hundredths of a second on his final run of the day.
As a result of the entertaining hill climb, the event’s Clerk of Course John Kelso was proud with the success of the opening round and paid tribute to all competitors.
“The first round of the championship went really well and to have 98 entries was just a fantastic way to start the year. Rob Roy hasn’t had those sorts of numbers for the long time. I can’t remember the last time we got that many people,” Kelso said.
“Not only were our numbers good but the competitors were really tolerant and very compliant with the initiatives we had creasted to stay in line with Motorsport Australia’s Return to Race document.
“We were really happy with how some of those initiatives went and made the event flow – so much so that we’re going to continue using them even when we return to normal after COVID restrictions finish.
“The only thing we would change now ahead of the next event would be to welcome back spectators, but other than that, it was a brilliant day.
“We have also applied for a sporting grant from the Government as the course is in need of some maintenance, which we’re hopeful of completing before the state championship returns to Rob Roy.”
The Tydel EZIUP&GO Motorsport Australia Victorian Hill Climb Championship’s second round will take place at Bryant Park on 13 February.